Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Arresting Developments by James Buchanan, Josh Lanyon, L. Picaro

TITLE: Arresting Developments
AUTHOR: James Buchanan, Josh Lanyon, L. Picaro
PUBLISHER: Aspen Mountain Press
LENGTH: Anthology (roughly 37k)
GENRE: Gay erotic romance
COST: $5.99

A collection of three gay erotic romances, each one featuring a cop as part of the romance.

“Coyote Crossing” by James Buchanan starts with border patrol officer Rick Franco about to have his first big bust in a new post in New Mexico. He doesn’t expect to end up busting the baby brother of his best friend growing up, but he covers for Augi in hopes of landing a bigger fish. There might be the beginnings of a nice romance in this story, but they’re lost in all the technical errors that completely pulled me out of it. In the first two pages alone, the author misuses “loose” for “lose,” “waiving” for “waving,” and “gate” for “gait.” I have no idea how I’m supposed to take a story seriously when it’s edited this poorly. It didn’t improve very much, either, which makes it next to impossible to recommend it.

The second story in the anthology is “In a Dark Wood” by Josh Lanyon. Travel writer Tim is on a first date with cop Luke, a camping weekend that has turned unpleasant as they get lost. The night they met, Tim told a story about a house that terrified him at thirteen, and as the date progresses, he becomes increasingly convinced that Luke just asked him out in order to find the house again. Reality, however, is much scarier than that. What I love about Lanyon is here in spades – sympathetic characters and sharp storytelling. Both men are flawed, and there is no easy answer for the romance, making it feel that much more genuine. If I have any complaints, it’s that it doesn’t have the usual tight editing I’ve found in other Lanyon stories. There are some funny tense shifts in an early section of the story that – thankfully – aren’t nearly as jarring to read as some of the technical issues in the other stories.

The last story is “Gamble Everything” by L. Picaro. Officer Adam Coventry is called to help a car that’s crashed into a snowbank, where he meets Marc Doane. He figures out quickly that Marc is retired porn actor Rod Shaftem, but what he doesn’t know is why somebody would shoot at Marc to drive him off the road. It’s up to him to figure out, but a one-night stand with the man might complicate things. In a lot of ways, I have the same difficulty with this story as I did with the first. On the third page of the story, a reference is made to a bar called the Lyon’s Lair. Three sentences later, it’s called the Lyon’s Layer, then later on, it reverts to the original spelling. There are continuity errors as well, like when a condom magically appears later on after Marc says he doesn’t have any. It’s hard to treat a story like a professional publication when it has such glaring errors. It’s bad enough that the development of the relationship is stilted and unbelievable, but it stands even less of a chance for me enjoy it when I have to struggle with the prose itself.

Unless you’re a fan of one or more of the authors, I’m not sure I can recommend the anthology as a whole. Only Lanyon’s story engaged me. This wasn’t the example I needed to make myself a fan of either of the other authors.

Readability

6/10 – Sloppy editing drags down two-thirds of this anthology.

Romance

5/10 – Only one of them presented a romance that was remotely believable.

Characterization

6/10 – Shallow characterizations made it very hard to connect to two of the stories.

Entertainment value

5/10 – With two of the stories hard to take seriously, this leaves Lanyon leading the pack.

World building

7/10 – The best overall aspect, though the third story left a little to be desired.

TOTAL:

29/50

5 comments:

gaia19 said...

This is why I steer clear of anthologies, unless their one of the big gay erotica mammoth books. I have a copy, and I only got one because of Josh Lanyon's contribution.

Poor editing pisses me off. This is a product at the end of the day, that people will buy. It's really disrespecting your customers, if you can't even promise them a well-edited story.

Book Utopia Mom said...

Oh, I agree. It's about professionalism and presentation. I have to admit that I get tired of hearing authors argue that it's the story that counts, that readers should be able to look past those kind of mistakes. And I can look past a few. But that argument doesn't wash with me. Partially because it makes me feel that if a writer doesn't care enough to make sure that he's got the craft of his trade down, he's not going to care enough about the story itself. But partially because it *is* a craft. You wouldn't accept a hand-crafted desk if the drawers were broken or the nails were pounded in haphazardly. It doesn't matter if the surface still works.

Gabrina said...

I hope you're not just talking small press books either. ACE books seem to be just about the very worst in editing. Foreign car names spelled wrong (hey, if it's not American, it doesn't matter, right?) character names misplaced, etc. I read a fantasy story once where a character who'd died some 20 pages earlier suddenly shouted a line to someone else. Now that's bad.

In the defense of the writer, however, some smaller things might be overlooked because of other deadlines. Maybe that's the case with ACE books. Maybe an author is getting back a 350 page book and told hey, get this galley back to me...yesterday. Or maybe ACE editors are on crack. They're not the only large press I've seen with tons of very noticeable mistakes--and I can be pretty forgiving!

Gabrina, who will never write for ACE. :)

Josh Lanyon said...

Oh lord. I...uh...have a confession. That change of tense in IADW was me being...arty.

Yeah, sorry. It didn't work, I take it? *g*

When Tim is really sloshed I changed the tense a bit to try and indicate the intensity of what he was feeling.

Welllll, you win some, you lose some. But otherwise it sounds like you enjoyed the story, so I'm glad about that anyway!

Book Utopia Mom said...

Well, that explains a lot, lol. I can understand the choice to try the tense thing, but yeah, for me, it didn't work.

But I did enjoy the story. I need to get to Dark Horse soon. :)